Indie Interview: Tom Minder

I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again: thank you. The Indie Interview series was started on a whim, and here we are 13 interviews later, and still going strong. Each Sunday, you read about a different author’s experiences and lessons learned, and you connect with them or empathise. And that’s exactly what I’d hoped would happen when I posted the plea for more writers back in January.

If you enjoy reading the interviews and want to take part, get in touch via the contact form. You don’t need to be an Indie author to get involved. This is for everyone, and everyone is welcome here.

This week’s interview is with Tom Minder, the author of The Long Harbour Testament, a book which sees a a gambling priest’s brother killed by a bookie and a detective getting involved with a mob boss to solve a murder.

I don’t know about you but that definitely sounds like a whirlwind. 


Hi, Tom Welcome to Read A Lot.

Q: Had you always planned on becoming a published author?

A: I dreamed of it growing up, as do many people. I got serious about my novel about five years ago when I realized that I had enough to flesh it into an outline.

Q: What inspired you to write The Long Harbour Testament?

A: The works of Dostoyevsky and Graham Green. The idea of troubled characters facing moral crises, and experiencing the consequences, intrigued me. Aren’t we all just a bad decision away from trouble?

Q: What made you choose this genre?

A: Mystery, unsettled lives, good versus evil (and how these are hard to tell apart) allow the writer and reader to escape everyday worries and see how their heroes or anti-heroes cope with life’s difficulties.

Q: What is the book about?

A: A parish priest and his brother become involved in the death of a local bookie. The town debates if the killing is a crime or a benefit to the community while a mobster and police detective form an unholy alliance searching for answers. Religion, gambling, drinking, Girl Scout cookies, and a wedding with a miracle complicate the investigation.

Q: Did you find it easiest to write with a schedule or with no time restrictions?

A: I wrote on a strict schedule and mostly on the weekends due to job responsibilities. The experience was enjoyable and an escape from the everyday grind.

Q: Can you choose a favourite character?

A: Detective Porfino. A man thrust into the investigation of the death of a feared, and mostly unmissed character. His low-key handling of the persons of interest add humor to the story while assuring the reader that he’ll get to the bottom of things, wherever they lead. I modelled him after Porfiry in Crime and Punishment.

Q: Was there ever a point while you were writing your book when you wanted to give up?

A: No, actually. It was exciting and satisfying to write each section and see it through to the end. I did reach a point where my projected 250-page novel looked like it would end abruptly at about 125 pages. That’s where having a developed outline helped me to get back on track, see where the story needed to go, and complete the story.

Q: What is the worst part of the writing process for you?

A: I have to admit that the long process of querying agents and small presses became the toughest part of the journey. It’s easy to think “nobody loves me” when the rejections occur, or worse, there’s no response at all

Q: How much of your stories do you plan, or do you find it easier to make them up as you go along?

A: I outline everything, even short stories regardless of the length. Outlining is a chance to think the story completely through and decide if it’s worth writing. It also help as a reference guide when the plot starts to veer off.

Q: Do you have a favourite piece of writing advice?

A: Write the first draft of your work, beginning to end, without any major revision or rework. Then, give yourself some time to cool off before you boil it down to a second draft. Seek as much feedback as you can from editors, beta readers, critique members, and fellow writers.  Expect the second draft to be smaller than the first as you throw unneeded exposition and plot items overboard. Stephen King’s formula is second draft = first draft minus ten percent. That’s pretty accurate.

Q: Where can people learn more about your books?

A: I have a web site, http://tomminder.weebly.com/ . The Long Harbor Testament is my only completed novel at this point. I am also developing an anthology of short fiction which may be brought out later this year.

Q: What have you learned since you started writing?

A: That writing is a business. Even if you’d be happy just seeing your work in print, you need to approach the whole process as a business project to be consumed by agents, publishers, and readers. Leave one of these out and you’ll have an incomplete, unsatisfying product.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: An anthology of short stories centered on a married couple and their experiences coping with wildlife, criminals, Wawas, casinos, and other mainstays of South Jersey life. The couple is a composite of myself and Paula, Dagwood and Blondie, and Nick and Nora Charles (from The Thin Man series)

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Father Jim has a gambling problem, a girlfriend, and his brother Gabe just killed his bookie. Detective Mark Porfino investigates while mob boss Mario Gallante arrives to figure out why his protégé was found floating in the harbor.

 Mark and Mario form an unholy alliance, with fast food, drinking, Girl Scout cookies, a dead man with a morbid sense of humor, and a wedding with a miracle, contributing to the search for the killer.

 Jim must weigh family loyalty and protection of his lover against the vows he’s made to himself and his church. Will Gabe confess and relieve Jim of his burden? Or will they both be dragged further into the abyss until their secret is revealed?

Indie Interview: Ash Gray

It’s time for another Indie Interview, and this week, Ash Gray stopped by to talk about her fantasy novels, her inspiration, and what inspired her to keep writing.

Ash Gray is a dragon with minuscule spectacles perched on her nose, living in a wonderfully dank, musty cave far away in an alternate universe. She types her stories with gigantic claws on a ridiculously small typewriter before sending them through a membrane and into your dimension for your enjoyment.

Hi, Ash. Welcome to Read A Lot.

Q: Had you always planned on becoming a published author?

A:  No. I’ve been asked this question before, and it leaves me wondering if other people always knew they wanted to write. I have always loved stories, yes. I was a bookworm out of the womb.

I still have very fond memories of Story Time in the Sacramento library. When I was five, the place seemed huge and the towering bookshelves endless, like I was in some magical athenaeum. I have loved reading since I was three, but did I ever want to write my own stories? No. I didn’t believe I could ever be published. If I hadn’t published my own stories, I doubt they’d ever see print. People like me do not have the privilege of dreaming of being successful fantasy authors. Because people like me very seldom get to be.

Q: What inspired you to write your novels?

A: What inspired me to finally write was tragedy. I’ve always been a very quiet person. I’m more a listener than someone who shares my feelings with others. I once knew this woman who told me I was always fixing everyone else’s problems except my own.

When two of my family members died almost within the same year, my mother knew I wasn’t going to talk about it, and because she was grieving, she knew she could not be there to listen, so she gave me a journal to write about it. That was when I started writing my first novels. I believe I was twelve. You usually hear writers say “I’ve been writing since I was six!!!” Not me. As I said above, it wasn’t my intention to be writer. It just happened.

Q: What made you choose the fantasy genre?

A:  I’m an escapist. Most escapists are naturally people who are having crappy lives and need to escape from them. For me, the greatest escape is fantasy fiction. Elves, dragons, mermaids, there’s nothing further from reality. I could explain why I was an escapist, but I already look mad enough as it is. So I will refrain.

Q: What are your books about?

A: My books, whether fantasy or science fiction or even erotic romance, are all about the human condition. Every single book explores in some way, shape, or form what it means to be alive, what it means to be a good person, and why we exist, as well as a healthy dosage of themes surrounding fate, destiny, and questions of morality.

The Thieves of Nottica examines social and economic oppression – things that still go on to this day. The “demons” are actually aliens who live on a planet that’s been invaded by humans, who have proceeded to dominate and oppress them for centuries. And not only are demons oppressed but robots are practically slaves. The book questions whether humans have the capacity to one day learn to treat other sentient creatures with decency.

It’s a deliberate criticism of racism and sexism and homophobia and institutionalized racism and institutionalized sexism and all the other isms and phobias that still, still exist. And it leaves me wondering if people who read the book “get” that. Or maybe they do get that and it’s the reason why they stopped reading (the book is sitting quietly on a few goodreads shelves).

All that being said, I did make some attempt to keep the book light-hearted and humorous. It’s not meant to preach or lecture. It’s an examination of the inequalities that are still going on today. The book shines a light on things we would all rather ignore.

Now. Someone may ask me “Well, how do you expect the humans to end the social and economic oppression of the demons? Give up their riches and go live in the filthy slums to prove they aren’t racist?”

No. That’s not what equality is. Change begins with teaching the new generation to treat people who are different from them as beings of worth, with decency, kindness, and respect. It’s too late for us. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. We’ve already been indoctrinated.

But we can teach our children to treat people like people and not stereotypes or caricatures or inferiors. I guarantee that if more people were hired for jobs based solely on their merit instead of turned away on the basis of skin tone alone, there would be less crime from their communities. Yet we make certain groups into criminals and wonder why there is crime. We deny certain groups education and wonder why they are uneducated. We deny certain groups the resources to feed themselves nutritious foods and wonder why they have health problems, why they have high rates of mental illness, why they steal to survive.

The Keymasters in The Thieves of Nottica are thieves in the first place because society sucks.

Now, I’m not pretending people don’t have choices. Some people just choose to be criminals and there is no one else to blame. But some people really don’t have choice. The only way for a demon or a robot to live free in the world of Nottica is for them to become criminals. And that’s exactly what the Keymasters do, loudly  and defiantly.

The book is a direct defiance of class systems, of oppression, of categories and gender roles. That’s what it’s about.

Since I’ve taken several paragraphs to answer this question (ha . . .) I will get off my soap box, end my impassioned ranting, and try to keep my other answers relatively short. (I’ll try, anyway)

Q: Did you find it easiest to write with a schedule or with no time restrictions?

A: I’ve never written within schedules or time restrictions, not until recently. I always write a book whenever I feel like it and however long it takes. And because I write multiple things, I always find myself hopping between novels.

It’s only recently that I started writing with deadlines in an attempt to sort of push myself. The result of that was pretty poor. My novella The Seaglass Stair was shoddy at best because of that (sorry to anyone who bought an old revision) but I’ve since revised it and the polished version should be live on Amazon whenever the system updates.

I still use deadlines, but now I don’t push myself as hard. Now I have the mentality of “if I make the deadline, I do; and if I don’t make the deadline, I don’t.”  Now deadlines just serve to motivate me. My current novella that I’m writing and hoping to release soon is something I push myself to work on everyday. But if I don’t make the deadline, I’m not going to push myself to publish unedited work with the assumption that “no one will read it anyway so I have time to fix it later!” Now I know that people will read it and give me a poor review, ha ha.

Q: Can you choose a favourite character?

A:  A favourite character of mine or a favourite character of another author? I’ll assume this is asking about my own characters and turn on Shameless Plug Mode.

Hmm. My favourite character that I’ve ever written . . . I actually had to look at my writing folder and I honestly can’t say any character I’ve written is a “favourite.” I haven’t written a favourite character yet. I don’t love any of my own characters that much.

As for the characters of other writers . . . I have always loved the train from The Little Engine That Could.

Q: Was there ever a point while you were writing when you wanted to give up?

A: Yes. I believe I gave up writing for an entire year with the declaration that I would never write again because I simply didn’t think I could. There were medical reasons involved. From 2011 to 2014 I was very ill and there were two instances where I nearly died.

People were also being very cruel to me. This included college professors, medical practitioners, people I was dating . . . these were people who were supposed to be helping me and uplifting me and instead they were kicking me while I was down. It was like a carrion feast for a select group of very ghoulish people.

I cried and said I couldn’t write anymore because the one thing that made me happy, I felt physically and mentally unable to do. Then the next year, I wrote a hugely long and rambling epic fantasy novel that was cruelly, viciously turned down by a very bigoted, very sarcastic literary agent (I plan to release that novel some time this year on Kindle), and that did nothing to encourage me.

The thing that finally made me write again was – believe it or not – my fan fictions. I’ve been a fan fiction writer for a little over ten years. In 2013, around the time I was ill and immediately after I vowed to stop writing things of my own, I was sick in bed and started a very long fan fiction. People loved it. I kept getting messages about how they started reading the fan fiction and couldn’t stop and how I almost got them in trouble at work.

I’m not sure how much of a compliment that is, though. I mean . . . it’s fan fiction. People were enamoured of someone else’s characters that I stuck my hands in like sock puppets. But they told me they loved the sad and beautiful (their words) voice that was behind those characters — remember, I had nearly died, so yeah I was sad. And little did I know I would nearly die again in 2014 the following year.

But receiving all those messages encouraged me to try writing my own stories again and to not give up, no matter how utterly hateful the world was. So I sat down and I wrote the first draft of Time’s Arrow: A Time of Darkness Book 1. I promptly abandoned the book as garbage for a few years, but the point is I tried.

 I got back on the figurative horse.

Q: What is the worst part of the writing process for you?

A: Well, because I’m painfully aware of my own failings as a writer, the worst part is trying to overcome those failings.

For example, it used to be that I was really, really bad at exposition. Long rambling paragraphs about the history of magic cows are part and parcel to the epic fantasy genre, but I’ve since started shoving away all the most boring exposition into footnotes in my novels and it has vastly improved the flow of them.

I still have other problems I need to overcome, though. I’m not much of an action writer. I mean, I can describe action but I can not bring across the true peril the characters are in. In other words, I am not good at really scaring the audience. And I think it’s mostly because I don’t read much action fiction and I didn’t grow up reading it. It’s not in my blood.

Q: How much of your stories do you plan, or do you find it easier to make them up as you go along?

A: It used to be that I would always make up the stuff as I went along. When I was in college, I had this t-shirt that said “I make stuff up” because that’s exactly what I did. I jumped into the chaos and just wrote something, anything everyday.

Now that I’m older and have been whipped into line by college professors, I sometimes lapse into making outlines and planning out my story. So now, I usually know how the story is going to end and exactly what’s going to happen, even if I haven’t written yet. In this way, I can also guess the word count and length of a book before it’s finished.

I still love flying by the seat of my pants, though. So I don’t fill out my outlines too much.

Q: Do you have a favourite piece of writing advice?

A: No. I’m the last person to give advice and I barely follow the advice of other writers. There is, however, one piece of advice that I love and try to follow. It has been leaping between various successful writers for quite some time – who all pretend they’re the first one to have said it — and the advice is to always, always finish what you write. Even if it’s garbage. Even if you hate it.

Most writers say you should do this just to learn something from your mistakes, and that’s true. But I also do it because it cuts my work load in half later. If I’m working on another novel and I need a good word for a made up language or a good name or a good location, I can copy/paste it from an old crappy story of mine and improve upon the garbage I wrote before.

I keep everything I write for this reason, no matter how appallingly bad. The Seaglass Stair was a horrendous book I wrote fifteen years ago. I’ve refurbished it like an old car and am selling it on Amazon. Some of it’s horrendous roots still bleed through, but it’s a decent escapist fantasy now. Decent, anyway. Again, I apologize if you borrowed/read/bought the old revision.

Q: Where can people learn more about your books?

A. My blog. It’s a place where I rant about my books on occasion, between whining about book covers and ever-shifting Amazon policies.

Q: What have you learned since you started writing?

A:  I wish I could say that I learned something cheesy and profound . . . like “Never give up!”

Well, I mentioned that I’ve been writing fan fiction for over ten years. I’ve also been sharing my original work online, and I learned a great deal from my readers.

I learned that readers always interpret your work based solely on their own perceptions and their own experiences. Kind of like your written word is a work of art. No one is ever going to really see your characters and your world and your perspective through your eyes, no matter how many times you hold out your hand and invite them.

Each reader makes the journey their own. And even if they are going on that journey with you, you are just a guide escorting them through your mind. You can’t tell them how to interpret what they see.

I mean, you can. But there’s no point. People will always see exactly what they want to see, not what’s really there. Seeing what you want to see or what you’re taught to see is the very reason prejudice (and I’m not simply talking about racism but all forms of hatred) thrives. But people seem built to do that.

I once wrote a male gay character about ten years ago, and this one reader argued with me for years that the character had to be bisexual just because he slept with a woman once. There was no telling this person they could not have their dream of a bisexual character, even if I meant for the man to be one hundred percent gay. Even if the man was forced into a situation where we he was pressured to marry a woman to please his parents – oh no, he was bi to this reader and always would be just because he didn’t hate his wife and remained friends with her.

Long rambling short, I learned that I am just a guide. When my readers step into my world, they can decide how to interpret it. All I can do is present the story and say “Here, go have fun.”

What they can’t do is tell me what I meant to say or what my original intentions were (or how my characters look). But that’s a whole other argument.

Q: What’s next for you?

A:  I intend to keep writing. And promoting. And blogging. And writing. I intend to keep telling stories and hopefully getting better.

I intend to keep moving forward and hopefully stop looking back.


Thieves of Nottica is available on Amazon here.

“Scanning,” Lisa repeated. “Scanning Complete.” Her eyes clicked, turning golden again as the red mesh of light dissipated. Beams of yellow light reached from her eyes instead, creating a circular spotlight that glared over the trees directly in front of them. The creature came faster, Lisa’s glowing eyes having pinpointed their location for it.

“Well?” Morganith demanded of Lisa.

A tree somewhere fell with a groan in the darkness. The four of them leapt as it slammed down, shaking the world in a riot of dust.

            “What is it?!” Hari begged.

            “It is . . .” began Lisa, but she needn’t have finished. A giant mechanical frog rolled out of the darkness and into Lisa’s light; round, blank eyes gleaming like yellow headlights as it came to a smooth, rattling stop. Rigg glanced beyond it and could see it had trampled its eager way to them, leaving a path of destruction its wake. In place of legs, it had been fitted with the rolling tracks of a tank. Its rusty metal body was peeling with green paint, and its great, wide, toothless mouth was open to reveal a red synthetic tongue. Its yellow throat, made of withered cloth, ballooned out when it croaked, regarding them with the greedy, hungry expression of a predator.       

            Hari took a stumbling step back, pushing her welding goggles back from her eyes to regard the creature in disbelief. “You gotta be kiddin’ me,” she said. “Who would waste their scrap makin’ somethin’ like this?”

            “You?” Morganith suggested.

            “Proto-Frog Unit 365,” said Lisa factually. “Prototype Age: One Hundred and Nine. Designated Perimeter: Purva Forest. Function: To Cull The Population Of Wild Spiders –”

            “Hmm. That makes sense, actually,” said Hari, shrugging contently.

            The proto-frog gave a croaking, creaking scream, raising the hairs on Rigg’s neck.

            “Great, things make sense,” said Morganith sarcastically. “Now that Hari’s comfortable, can we fight for our lives?”

 

Indie Interview: Alice Longaker

Before you read this week’s Indie Interview, I wanted to say thank you for your continued support. I love reading about other writers’ experiences and the hurdles they’ve managed to overcome to get their book published, and your likes and comments and patience is just the icing on a cake that’s already pretty awesome.

This week, Alice Longaker stopped by to talk about her new book WREN.


Hi, Alice. Welcome to Read A Lot.

Thanks for letting me share about my book and writing.

Q: Had you always planned on becoming a published author?

A:  Oh, no. I wanted to be a veterinarian, an archaeologist, and play the banjo; however, my careers were book-related. I majored in history, switched to Elementary Education, and received a master’s degree in Literature.

I worked in libraries for many years before returning to school, so I could teach composition, research, and literature to college students. While I loved reading and “Language Arts” as a child, I was thirty before I heard “the call of stories.” I am a late bloomer.

Q: What inspired you to write WREN ?

A:  Two contrasting situations were most responsible. As a child, I spent summers in the Arkansas Ozarks visiting my grandparents, and the region is dear to me. Long after their deaths, I delighted in residencies at the Writers’ Colony at Dairy hollow in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The scents, and green, and nature of the region is such a contrast to where I live, and there is a forceful impact.

In 2004, I hit a less-idyllic place in my life-I was trying to recover from chemotherapy after a breast cancer diagnosis and surgery. I had pneumonia, I fell and broke my arm, and so on. I packed up belongings and headed to recuperate at a friend’s home.

In spite of my gracious hosts, I was weak, lonely, and felt separated from all that was Alice. It was then that I began the story of a young girl on her own journey to recovery.

Q: What made you choose the genre?

A: The story that grew in my imagination did not fit other genres. It is a simple, straightforward tale. Some gentle twists but not mystery. Some fear but not horror. There is love but not romance. And it needed to be a children’s book.

Q: What is the book about?

A: When her mother is diagnosed with advanced-stage breast cancer, Wren scraps her own summer plans to go stay with her non-traditional grandparents in the Ozark Mountains.

Told through 13-year-old Wren’s journal entries, she crosses thresholds of womanhood, faces fears, and learns that life “doesn’t have to be perfect to be good.”

The novel is written for an audience of middle-grade girls. Since most days are ordinary, it captures how love, change, and hope can make such days extraordinary. Middle-grade girls often experience emotional highs and lows, and Wren offers some wisdom, opportunities for discussion, and a companion for those times.

 

Q: Did you find it easiest to write with a schedule or with no time restrictions?

Well, I use both approaches, and neither is easy for me. Even though Wren is a small book, it was many years in the making. When I began, I was working full time, so some of the story built in small pieces. In the past couple of years, I have been able to write full time. I formed an online writing community, and focused on finishing Wren, and that time was more structured. I do have a schedule to my day, write every day, and have several projects going on at the same time.

Q: Can you choose a favourite character?

A: I love them all like family. After trying to see the world through Wren’s eyes for so long, I came to feel her reactions. I adore the grandparents. I am glad for Wren’s friendships. I shudder at Aunt Char.

Q: Was there ever a point while you were writing your book when you wanted to give up?

A: Several times. The first draft was horrible. I could pinpoint what was wrong but had difficulty making the rewrite flow. I deleted the first two drafts–saving only a paragraph or two. I changed the narrator’s point of view three times. I do not see myself as a writer of books, and it is strange and new territory.

Q: What is the worst part of the writing process for you?

A: For me, the very last stage is proofreading, and I sometimes make more errors in trying to correct something. Like most people, I read what I meant to say rather than what I actually typed. After 13 or 14 drafts, I still found formatting errors, wandering commas, and amusing typos. It helps me to let the manuscript rest for some time–months–and then come back. Of course, various computer programs are helpful and careful editors/readers are essential.

Q: How much of your stories do you plan, or do you find it easier to make them up as you go along?

A: I had a list of events, an outline of plot, a story timeline, as well as character biographies and descriptions. Much of that never made it into the book because it did not contribute to the direction of the story in some way. It was critical that the story was not a memoir, not my story, but that Wren told it. In that way, I was not forceful about the story, but let Wren take over. The book is more character-driven than plot-driven, and I think that made a difference in my approach as well.

Q: Do you have a favourite piece of writing advice?

A: Revision IS writing. And typing pages and page of words is not all there is to writing.

Q: Where can people learn more about your books?

A: They can order print copies of Wren through Black Rose Writing or order eBooks at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. If readers live in Northern Colorado, some of the bookstores carry copies as well. Wren has a Facebook page, and my author site on Facebook informs readers about Wren’s news and events.

Q: What have you learned since you started writing?

A:  I have written essays, short stories, plays, song lyrics, poetry, and research papers. Of all the writing I have done, writing for children is most challenging. The language needs to be precise like poetry. It needs to be well-researched like academic writing. There needs to be a child’s sense of naivete and wonder without the jaded views of adulthood. The plot needs to move. The author has a responsibility to scrutinize the writing for anything harmful or inappropriate.

One cannot succumb to laziness or the mentality that it is “just a children’s story.”

As C. S. Lewis said, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”

Q: What’s next for you?

I have several ongoing projects–a collection of short stories, gathering poetry for collections, and always writing fresh blog posts. I am not sure if I have another novel in me-certainly not one that took as long as Wren to write.


Grandma and Grandpa live on an acreage of rural land outside of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The-not-so-typical grandparents are aging hippies with goats, chickens, and alpacas as companions. Wren finds adventure in excursions to an art museum, local caves, and a Civil War battlefield as well as ordinary days on trails and porches. Happiness comes with finding new friends, increased independence, and acres of woods to explore. She feels a tie to the land Grandpa so loves. Wren tries to discover what she wants to do when she is grown—an archaeologist, or ranger, perhaps a writer or a singer?

Worries collide with joys. Mama loses her hair and undergoes hospitalizations for chemotherapy. Wren’s own unmanageable hair frizzes in the Ozark humidity. Her first pimple and first period arrive without Mama’s calming voice. Without cell phone reception and internet access, Wren feels separated from those back home.

Chiggers bite. Spiders lurk.  Wren’s nemesis Aunt Char returns. Old Tom, the cat, curls up to sleep and never awakens. An owl calls outside of Wren’s window. Do razorback pigs lurk in the woods? Sometimes Wren gets scared, but when she really should be alarmed, she instead befriends a man with cruel intentions. Late summer turns tragic.

Yet even bleak sorrow and loss is no match for family, friendship, and laughter. Arkansas teaches harshly and gently, and Wren learns about womanhood and healing.

Indie Interview: Steve Boseley

This week’s Indie Interview is with Steve Boseley, whose collection of short stories, A Sinisiter Six, has been described as “incredible”, “perfectly horrid”, and ‘brings you in then keeps you shivering” and if that isn’t enough, it’s earned more than one five-star review from its readers.

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Hi, Steve. Welcome to Read A Lot.

Q: Had you always planned on becoming a published author?

A:  Not really.  I’ve written on and off for many years, but it’s only the last one or two years that I’ve been taking it ‘seriously’ and actually aiming for publication.  I’ve been a lot of things in my life, but it’s only in the last six months that I have started spending more time writing than I do on my day job.

Q: What inspired you to write A Sinister Six?

A:  It actually stemmed from a series of conversations I had with a friend.  I had acquired a catalogue of short stories, and he suggested that I should pull the best ones together and get something available on Amazon.  His feedback, combined with that of several beta-readers, was what gave me the push to actually do it.  I pulled six stories together, and A Sinister Six was born!

Q: What made you choose the genre?

A: I’ve always been a lover of horror fiction, so it seemed natural that if I were to write anything, horror / dark fiction would be the genre I would choose.  I’ve tried writing in other genres, but it doesn’t seem to work out quite as I planned.

In the last year, I wrote a piece of fiction that was supposed to be amusing.  When I discussed this piece with a friend, we were howling with laughter, but when I wrote it, there was suddenly blood dripping from the ceiling and half a foot left in someone’s shoe.  I don’t think my brain wants me to write anything else!  Curiously, I still think this is some of the best writing I’ve done!  It’s Merle’s story and it’s free on my website if you’re interested!

Q: What is the book about?

A: A Sinister Six is exactly what it says on the cover.  It is a collection of darkly disturbing stories, where the ordinary and mundane become extraordinary and fantastic.

It invites readers on a journey to the edges of reality and offers a glimpse at what lies just beyond reach. I want readers to discover that nothing is quite as it seems.

The six stories are all very different: Meet an old man that is pushed beyond his limits; a ten-year-old boy who is offered a deal by The Devil, in the guise of a nurse; a photograph that is still adding people decades after it was taken; a woman that doesn’t age; a book that demands to be read, putting our existence at risk; an over-worked man struggling to maintain his hold on reality.

Q: Did you find it easiest to write with a schedule or with no time restrictions?

A: When I originally wrote the stories I had no time restrictions.  It was very much ‘they will be finished when they get finished.’  However, once I had decided that I was going to publish them as a book, I gave myself a schedule to edit the stories, complete the formatting, get a cover designed, etc.  If I hadn’t, it could still remain unpublished!

I’ve learned a lesson and will give myself a schedule for my next book, right from the start!

Q: Can you choose a favourite character?

A: I would have to say my favourite character is Ted Harris.  He is the protagonist in Die, Blossom, Bloom, which is the first story in the book and also my first novella, coming in at 20k words.  Ted is an old man who has moved to the country to spend his last few years with his wife.  He has a secret to keep about the death of his wife, and there are those around him that wish to uncover that secret.  This battle will eventually push Ted to commit acts he never thought himself capable of.

He’s my favourite, as he is based on my late grandfather (just the good stuff!), and I found him the easiest to write as a result.

Q: Was there ever a point while you were writing your book when you wanted to give up?

A: No.  There were plenty of times that I almost procrastinated myself away from finishing it – check my website, do more research, rewrite the first paragraph, etc. – but not completing it never occurred to me.  Just be careful, kids, procrastination is addictive.

Q: What is the worst part of the writing process for you?

A: The editing stage is not as fun as I’d like it to be, but I would say that over the whole life of the book, by far, my least favourite part is the marketing and promotion of the finished product.

It would be great if I could finish one book then just set it free into the world to fend for itself.

Q: How much of your stories do you plan, or do you find it easier to make them up as you go along?

A: I like to think I’m a bit of both.  I usually come up with the start and the end of stories.  That’s the planning part.  How I get from start to finish is usually the bit that happens organically.  The characters often do things that I hadn’t considered along the way, but having a finishing point allows me to make sure they don’t steer too far off course.

I did NaNoWriMo last year, and completed the challenge.  I don’t think I could have done that without planning.  There really is little time to stare out of the window until the story comes to you!

Q: Do you have a favourite piece of writing advice?

A: Make the first page, the first paragraph as enticing as it can possibly be.  I’m not Stephen King, so I don’t expect my readers to give me the benefit of the doubt for the first fifteen pages.  I want a reason to read the next page.

Q: Where can people learn more about your books?

A: A Sinister Six can be purchased here

Website:  http://www.authorsteveboseley.com

Blog:  https://authorsteveboseley.wordpress.com

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/SteveBoseley

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/authorsteveboseley

Pinterest:  https://uk.pinterest.com/steveboseley/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Steve-Boseley/e/B01DHXE01G/

Q: What have you learned since you started writing?

A:  I have learned that there are an awful lot of people on the Internet that are there to help you.  I have crossed path with people that have offered advice and support, people that have offered me opportunities (like this post, for example), people that have answered my questions, people that have listened when it’s all going Pete Tong (that’s rhyming slang for ‘wrong’ if you didn’t know), people that have helped me put things in perspective, and people that have encouraged me.

You just need to be brave enough to reach out, and do all those things yourself.  It’s like the Circle of Life.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I’m still growing as an author and I’ve still got lots to learn.  My wife tells me I need to be more sociable, so I’ll look forward to interacting with everyone, she tells me.  But right now, it’s on to the next book.  It’s going to be another collection of short (ish) stories, because I still enjoy writing them!  I wrote some of them in NaNo month, but there is editing to do, plus completely new stories as yet undiscovered…